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Odyssey Trailer Brake Controller

Posted in Product Reviews on June 1, 2005
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As with most electronic things, brake controllers are also getting smaller and more efficient. One case in point is Valley Industries' Odyssey, which is self-leveling, works on one- to four-axle trailers, and delivers better trailer-brake performance than did controllers of just a few years ago.

Unobtrusive and compact, the Odyssey brake controller packs a lot of technology in a package that mixes in with both late- and early-model interiors. Better yet, it works really well, with one- to four-axle trailers. The small pushbutton to the far right is a "load range selector" that can be set to four different levels and normally wouldn't be readjusted for a given trailer and load. At the lower left is a thumbwheel used to fine-tune the output to the trailer brakes to achieve maximum stopping power, just shy of lockup. A manual override slider at the lower right is used both for initial adjustments and can be a real lifesaver when used to activate only the trailer brakes in case of trailer sway. Between the "Odyssey" decal and the pushbutton is a two-digit LCD display (not noticeable in the photo) used for diagnostics and as a general indicator.

Hopefully, nobody is wondering why they'd want a brake controller in the first place, as it is usually both dumb and illegal not to have functional trailer brakes. After all, not only are your tow vehicle, trailer, and its load at stake, so are lives. Including your own. So, if you're towing a trailer, you probably should have one, and it makes sense to get a user-friendly and effective controller. At around $120, the Odyssey isn't the least-expensive brake controller you'll find, but it has features that we felt made it worth every dollar.

The Odyssey is as easy, or easier, to mount than any controller we've ever used, both from a wiring and positioning standpoint. Valley has wiring kits for most late-model vehicles, which allows plugging the unit right into the system. For from-scratch installations, there are only the normal four wires to deal with (power in, ground, activation, and power out), and each wire is not only the standard color insulation, but also is marked with its respective function. Clear and easy-to-follow instructions are included, but in case you still screw up, the Odyssey is protected from damage by reverse polarity.

Measuring a mere 5 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches, the Odyssey fits most dashes with ease. It should be mounted within 20 degrees of level, side to side and fore and aft (horizontally), and then the self-leveling dual-axis accelerometer within seems to find its equilibrium by itself. In the vertical plane, Valley feels that 90 degrees from level is maximum, but mostly because beyond that, the controls become hard to operate or see. There is no need to set any pendulums after mounting the controller within the instruction's parameters. It automatically adjusts to the road's hills or whatever terrain, then senses the rate of deceleration and applies the trailer brakes accordingly. Once properly adjusted, which is a quick procedure, we found the Odyssey to be the most effective and predictable controller we've used to date.

Valley also offers a slide-in mounting bracket (PN 37192) which, together with a soon-to-be-released quick disconnect for the wiring, will allow using a single Odyssey in more than one tow vehicle. Or, if you park in the wrong neighborhood and your vehicle mysteriously disappears, at least you'll still have your brake controller-if you removed it. OK, the Odyssey may not prevent crime, but it sure seems to stop a trailer well.

Sources

Valley Industries
Lodi, CA 95240
209-368-8881
valleyindustries.com

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